Will a special legislative session be called? LePage, Democrats give conflicting reports

Gov. Paul LePage
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Gov. Paul LePage
Posted Aug. 17, 2012, at 12:20 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 17, 2012, at 3:24 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Democratic legislative leader said Friday morning that Gov. Paul LePage told her during a phone call he’s no longer planning to call lawmakers back to the capitol this fall for a special legislative session.

But a spokeswoman for LePage insists the governor hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a special session and that he’s “keeping all options on the table.”

The divergent interpretations of a phone call between Rep. Emily Cain, the House Democratic leader, and LePage came two days after the governor told a gathering of Bangor-area Republicans that he’s considering a special session of the Legislature this fall to propose an initiative that he promised would “push the envelope” and further polarize Democrats against him.

Cain indicated in an email to reporters Friday morning that she spoke briefly with LePage. While the governor didn’t divulge the details of his proposal, Cain said LePage did tell her he wouldn’t call the Legislature back to Augusta for a special session. Instead, the governor said he would wait until January, when a newly elected Legislature is in session, to propose legislation.

But LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the governor continues to consider holding a special legislative session this fall. It’s premature, she said, to say definitively whether a special session will take place and to discuss what issue the governor wants to take up.

“There are multiple options,” she said. “Every one of them is being taken into consideration at this point.”

Bennett also criticized Cain for telling reporters about a private conversation.

“It’s very unfortunate that Rep. Cain would use this conversation to score political points,” she said.

Jodi Quintero, a spokeswoman for Cain, said the governor made it clear in his conversation with the House Democratic leader that he planned to wait until January to deliver his proposal to lawmakers. Cain “urged the governor to clarify his intentions to the public,” Quintero said.

Friday marked the second day speculation swirled around the State House regarding the governor’s plans for a special legislative session in advance of November’s elections. The governor said Wednesday, in a recording obtained by Bangor Daily News blogger Mike Tipping, he couldn’t divulge much about his plans because he’s still consulting with the state attorney general’s office to determine whether his proposal is legal.

Republican legislative leaders on Friday said they had received some information about the proposal from the governor’s office. LePage’s deputy chief of staff, Kathleen Newman, briefed House Speaker Robert Nutting and his staff, but asked them not to share details, Nutting’s spokesman Jim Cyr said.

Senate Majority Leader Jon Courtney said he knew “a little bit” from conversations with LePage staff members but not enough to make a comment.

Article V of the Maine Constitution allows a governor to call a special legislative session “on extraordinary occasions.” Bennett said the governor’s proposal “is something that we feel would warrant a special session and would adhere to the statute.”

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